Monday, September 26, 2011

This old truck

This is a photo of an old truck I'd taken in Alaska and it just spoke to me.  It made me remember the old truck my Dad used to drive when he ran the full service gas station.  

Yes Virginia, there was a time when you drove up and someone ran out to pump your gas, wash your windows and check your oil.  Sometimes there were even small promotional gifts given.  I "worked" at the station as one of my very first jobs.

I was too small to reach the windows of the bigger trucks so I would crawl up on the hood (I was a skinny little thing back then) and wash the windows up there.  The truck drivers would often give me "tips" because they thought it was so stinking cute.

I remember feeling very special because I knew how to run the pumps and never forgot to put the cap back on.  That was before they learned to tether the cap to the of the better modifications made to the automobile.

Dad had mastered the art of being able to lay down in the front seat of the old truck, legs hanging out of the open driver's side door and fall sound asleep for about twenty minutes after gulping down the lunch my mother would deliver to him.  He'd wake up rested and ready for several more hours of labor.

He was the kind of man who took pride in his station and kept everything clean and running smoothly.  Another of my jobs was to wash all the pop bottles (before cans) before putting them into the vending machine.  No dusty bottles for our customers!

If there was someone traveling through the area and their car broke down, they were lucky indeed that my Dad was there to help them.  He would not stop until they were back on the road, even if it meant staying open until midnight to make it happen.  If a part was needed someone (often family) was sent into the neighboring town about 15 miles away to get it.  There were no motels any where nearby, so this was a good thing.

One day a man can careening into the station screaming he'd been stung by a bee and was allergic.  Dad jumped into his car and sped off to the local clinic and helped usher him into the doctor for the shot that would save his life.  All in a days work.

I'll never forget the night of the accident that sent a semi truck that jackknifed into a car and landed on top of it in the ditch in front of the station.  Electric wires danced along the ground as we all ran out to assist in what ever way we could until the ambulance arrived.  The night took on a surreal quality as I tried to comfort the lady we managed to pull out of the car.  As I helped to pick glass out of her skin we all attempted to soothe her by telling her that her husband would be okay.

Unfortunately this was a time before the "jaws of life" were standard equipment and after they hustled her away in the ambulance we had no option but to watch the husband as he died slowly while trapped behind the wheel of the car.  It was so frustrating and sad and I remember feeling badly for having "lied" to her that he would be okay.  Back in that day your word meant everything and wasn't taken lightly and I had assured her that he'd be okay....and he wasn't going to be coming home.

But there were more happy memories than sad while working at the station.  During long stretches of boredom (only for me, never for him) I would perch my skinny butt on one of the guard posts by the ditch on the edge of the highway and pump my arms in the universal sign of "blow your horn" to the trucks that sailed by.  And they obliged with deep honks, smiles and waves for the little kid balanced on the top of a white post.  This was when Highway 16 was a major thoroughfare, before the Interstate system was introduced.

It was a good life, living in that small town in the middle of nowhere...even though I couldn't wait to escape from it someday.

Yup, there were a lot of memories in that old truck.  I miss you Daddy.

Long Live the Queen of Memories


  1. I miss him too. What a kind gentle man he was. Love reading about your memories!

  2. What beautiful memories to share. Thank you. It brought back wonderful thoughts of my own Daddy. You have a great day, hugs, Edna B.